As the biological father of a child, you may believe that you have a rightful claim to custody, visitation and the ability to play an active role in the life of your child. However, if your child was born out of wedlock, you may not have these rights until you take the appropriate course of action to establish custody.
When a biological father does not have legal recognition and clearly defined rights, it is impossible to settle issues such as custody, visitation, parental authority and child support appropriately. If you are a father in Kentucky and you are fighting for your rights as a dad, you would be wise not to wage this legal battle alone.
Fathers' rights in Kentucky
When a child is born to a married couple, the assumption is that the man is the father of the baby. For unmarried parents, this issue is a bit more complicated. Unmarried couples may eventually break up or the father may be interested in establishing legal rights, and at that point, it is necessary to establish paternity. Once established, both parents can seek resolution for issues that include:
- Child support
- Decision-making authority for the child
- Visitation schedule
- Health insurance
- Other specific concerns
Without legally establishing paternity, a father may not have a say in any area of his child's life. Even a verbal agreement between the two parents or a good working relationship with the child's mother may not be enough to protect your rights as a Kentucky father.
Will I have to sue?
Establishing paternity can be a voluntary process if both parents agree and are willing to complete the appropriate documentation. Parents can choose to do this immediately after the birth of the child or at any point in the future.
It not may be possible for this process to resolve voluntarily, however, and it may be necessary for you to file a paternity action. Once this process is complete and you have legal recognition as the father, you will have an obligation to financially support your child, as well as grounds to pursue other rights.
Protecting the best interests of the child
In the past, mothers most often won primary custody and parental rights, but now, more than ever before, courts are acknowledging that fathers should play an active role in the lives of their children. If you are the biological father, you have rights, and it is in the best interests of your kids for you to be involved. You can protect these entitlements and resolve any legal concerns related to paternity by seeking the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.